Thousands of people in eastern Ağrı province and Muğla in the west on Friday protested in the streets against the rising electricity prices they have faced since the beginning of the year, according to local media reports.
Turks started the new year with news of jacked-up prices, fueled by a currency crisis amid the highest rate of inflation in nearly two decades.
Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) announced on Jan. 1 that it had raised electricity prices by around 50 percent for lower-demand households for 2022 and more than 100 percent for high-demand commercial users.
Thousands in the Doğubeyazıt district of Ağrı protested high energy bills on Friday, marching towards the Aras Electricity Distribution Company building and calling on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to revoke the recent price hikes and to resign.
Footage of people staging the protest in spite of cold and rainy weather was posted on social media by Abdullah Koç and Dilan Dirayet Taşdemir, lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Doğal gaza yüzde 50, elektriğe ise yüzde 125'e varan zamlardan sonra halk, kesilen fahiş elektrik faturalarını ve tüm zamları Doğubayazıt'ta yaptığı yürüyüş ile protesto etti. @agr_hdp pic.twitter.com/TGqnrtzDth
— Abdullah KOÇ (@Abdullahkochdp) February 4, 2022
In the wake of the protests, the AKP’s Doğubayazıt district head Mustafa Konyar announced his resignation on social media.
Turks also took to the streets in the Marmaris, Fethiye, Milas, Menteşe and Köyceğiz districts of Muğla to protest high energy bills, local media said.
Opposition politicians and representatives from nongovernmental organizations gathered in front of the Aydem Energy Group’s Muğla headquarters in Menteşe.
The protesters said in a statement that there had been a two- to threefold increase in the electricity bills they received over the past month and that some of the merchants in the city had to pay electricity bills surpassing their monthly rent, demanding that the government roll back the price hikes.
People also protested against high energy prices in Bursa, where the owners of 77 cafes, nightclubs and restaurants switched off the lights for an hour between 9 and 10 p.m. on Friday and served their customers by candlelight.
According to local media reports, customers in some of the businesses began clapping their hands in support of the protest.
Turgay Güler from the Bursa Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the one-hour protest would be staged every day until the AKP government revokes the increase in energy prices.
Meanwhile, Serkan Sarı, the Balıkesir provincial head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), tweeted that they had to take down a poster on their building that criticized high energy bills on the orders of a prosecutor.
According to a report in the Sözcü daily on Saturday, the poster, which said, “They [couldn’t care less about] power outages and high energy bills… The palace [Erdoğan] is in good spirits!” was ordered to be taken down because it was “insulting the president.”
The poster was also referring to a power outage in a number of districts in Isparta due to heavy snowfall that paralyzed life in the city.
Aylin Önder Cesur, Isparta deputy for the nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party, on Friday said the power outage had lasted for over 48 hours in some districts of the city.
Isparta Mayor Şükrü Başdeğirmen from the ruling AKP drew criticism by saying in a statement on Friday that they expected locals to be “a little patient” until they solve the problems caused by the heavy snowfall.